John Gavazzoni
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The Gavazzonis'

Of Eternity and Time
By John Gavazzoni

There was an occasion not long ago when I needed to clarify what I have meant to convey in my writings and spoken messages by the term, "eternity," and/or "eternal," especially given the fact that neither in the Hebrew nor in Greek of the Bible, is there a word having that exact meaning. In that regard, it should be noted that we resort, in English usage, for instance, to condense into a single theological term a description of an attribute of God that in the actual scriptures is presented in multi-rhetorical form.

Who would deny that the Bible presents a God whose knowledge is without limitation? His eyes run to and fro over the whole earth beholding the good and the evil; He sees into the future as if it were present -- or should we say, that for Him the future is present. We speak of that attribute of God as "omniscience." Likewise, regarding the totality of His power, and scope of His presence, we refer to God as omnipotent and omnipresent. Along with being omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent, God has no beginning or end. He is timeless in His Being.

It is that attribute of God that I, along with many others, have meant to convey with the words, "eternity," and "eternal." It must be understood that this attribute of God transcends time and space. Eternity, as I've said so many times, is not about endless ages extending backward and forward. Eternity stands in contrast to time, to the ages. In the Greek of the New Testament, the adjective, "aionian" (English: eonian), speaks of that which pertains to the ages, to that dimension of beginnings and endings, in contrast to the essential timelessness of the Being within whom we all have our being.

What I have meant, and continue to mean, using "eternity" and "eternal," is that eternity=timeless=equals God. Scripture has no need for a word meaning literally eternal that is, timeless, for to speak of God implies Being that is without beginning or end, otherwise that being would not be God. God is the "I Am that I Am" God, who in solidarity with His creation, is also "Emmanuel, God with us." Thus He is, as described in scripture as the "aionian God." For God to be present ongoingly in the ages, calls for an adjective to describe His essential eternality present and working within the ages. It is only in respect to the ages, to the dimension of time, that He is described as "He Who was, and is, and is to come."

I hope that it does not require much pondering before that (in a sense) dichotomy of God's two-fold habitation strikes one with wonderment. The eternal God, not only framed the ages, but also as the eternal God, He inhabits the ages, without, in the ages, forfeiting His eternality, though He has chosen in His solidarity with creation to endure, with His creation, the futility to which He has subjected it. The Bible is a book pertaining to the ages, and is so as consistent with the disposition of the Eternal to abide within the temporal. It's the Eternal that will out. Within time, the Eternal works to return the temporal back to its Origin, uncorrupting what has been corrupted, transforming alienation and enmity into Godness, and by that process drawing forth the radiance, the effulgence, the otherwise hidden, full magnificence of the glory of God.

In closing, I must address a concept of the relationship between time and eternity that seems to be quite conventional. If the concept presented itself in mental picture, it might be seen as a line stretching back into the past marked by an endless sequence of ages, and likewise into the future, with an inserted time segment in the middle, or alongside the endless line. Most folks, it seems to me, to change the picture a bit, see eternity moving up to a point at which time is inserted into its line, so that while that insert exists, eternity has taken a break, so to speak, and will pick up again when time ends. And in respect to individual experience, he/she lives in time until death, at which point they enter eternity. This, or these, are deeply flawed concepts.

Time exists WITHIN the always now of God's eternality. Encapsulated within the infinity of the eternality of, and which IS, God, are the ages. Proper wonderment should include the truth that, while time is within the eternality of, and which is, God, the, on one hand, transcendent God, also lives within that time encapsulation. Time, with its intended corruptibility and ensuing corruption, is encapsulated in such a way that its corruption cannot, so to speak, leak out and alter the incorruptibility of the eternal in which it exists. But, God, with the purifying purity of His Being, salvifically alters the corruptibility of time from within time.

Here it may be helpful to borrow conceptually from Paul Tillich, who, if I'm recalling correctly, semantically differentiated between the eternal and the temporal, speaking of the former in terms of Being, and the latter, in terms of existence. Being (specifically, The "Ground of Being") = Eternal; existence = temporal. By His creation, existence has come to be, has been formed by, God within His Being -- formed out of the spirit-stuff of Being. We have all come, in union with Christ, out from the Being of God, while continuing to have our being within His Being, while also taking on space-time-materiality existence. The timelessly-begotten Son of God, who also became flesh within time, is the all-encompassing Reality of which I write.

Sin and death; corruptibility and corruption; all the meanness of the human condition are temporal. But temporality is temporal. Such shall have its end. "Sorrows will soon be ended, shadows will flee away, heartaches will be forgotten; O what a wonderful day" (to quote from "Over the Sunset Mountain," by John Peterson.) I think it was Fannie Crosby who penned similarly: "Someday the silver cord will break, and I no more as now shall sing, but O the joy when I shall wake within the palace of the King. And I shall see Him face to face, and tell the story saved by grace. And I shall see Him face to face, and tell the story saved by grace."

In the brightness of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, all the misery of temporality's existence shall be dissolved, and "there," in that eternal Day, all of temporality's contrariety will surrender to the eternal bliss of the new heaven and new earth. The Lamb will be the light "there." Love that meekly gave its all, from the midst of the throne of God, will dispel all darkness..."O what a wonderful day."

John GavazzoniJohn Gavazzoni
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